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GERMAN LAW AND LEGISLATION 

By Dr. Erich Schinnerer, University of Berlin 

Published by Terramare Office, Berlin, 1938 



WHEN the National Socialist Government came into office, on January 30, 
1933, it was confronted with widespread chaos and confusion in the social, 
economic and political life of the nation. A similar state of affairs existed in the 
legal sphere and in the administration of justice. The situation was too critical to 
allow of any time being lost in dealing with it. 

The first step taken was to put an end to the manner in which Parliament had 
hitherto functioned. Even in imperial times, before the War, this institution had 
proved itself inefficient. The republican parliament however, which followed the 
War, turned out not only inefficient but positively detrimental to the interests of 
the country. This republican Reichstag had been organized according to the prin- 
ciples laid down in the Weimar Constitution of 1919. But that Constitution had 
been drawn up by a Conference of theoretical jurists and politicians who were 
quite out of touch with the practical needs of the nation. It was therefore out of 
harmony with German historical tradition, with German mentality and the ethical 
constitution of the German nation. Moreover, the constitutional laws enacted at 
Weimar were formulated under the aegis of the so-called Peace Treaties and as 
such they naturally failed to arouse popular opinion in favour of the new 
Constitution. In the final crisis of 1932/33 the legislative body operating under this 
Constitution, that is to say, the Reichstag, absolutely failed to function. 
Parliamentary legislation was increasingly superseded by emergency decrees 
issued by the President of the Reich. In the year 1931 35 laws were passed and 42 
emergency decrees were issued. In 1932 only 5 laws were passed, but 60 decrees 
were issued. This system of emergency decrees could not furnish a permanent 
basis for the government of the country. 

Just as in the case of the State, the local administrations were also unable to 
cope with the difficulties that confronted them. Especially the municipalities were 
threatened with disaster, owing to the economic conditions which resulted directly 
from the political chaos. In addition to all this, the unfortunate dualism between 
the Reich and the governments of the federative states {NOTE: The expression 
"federative states " is used several times throughout this article and much of the 
recent constitutional reform affects the position of these states. As the average 
outsider has been accustomed to look on Germany as a political unit, it may be 



well to explain that before the War Germany was a Confederate League bearing 
the name: German Empire, under the hereditary presidency of the King of 
Prussia, who bore the title: "German Emperor". In 1918 the kings and princes of 
the various federative states abdicated; but the Weimar Constitution retained the 
principal federative states in the form of republics, with their independent 
government and parliaments. These were: Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, 
Wurttemberg, and the minor states: Baden, Thuringia, Hessen, Mecklenburg, 
Oldenburg, Brunswick, Anhalt, Lippe, Schaumburg- Lippe. In addition to these 
there were Free Hanse Cities of Lubeck, Bremen and Hamburg} led to the 
development of an administrative apparatus which was becoming more and more 
disjointed. 

The administration of justice failed to check the increasing volume of crimes 
and misdemeanours. In spite of the growing leniency towards the criminal, which 
was due to the prevailing laxity of moral ideas, the number of persons accused of 
larceny in Berlin rose from 32,452 in 1926 to 52,23 1 in 1932. The number accused 
of burglary rose from 18,673 to 36,729 within the same period. And the number of 
cases of robbery with murder from 2 to 7. The damage resulting from theft 
amounted to 16.5 million marks in 1926. In 1932 it amounted to 32 millions. The 
increase in acquittals, which offended the popular sense of justice, was an 
outstanding proof that the existing criminal code was inadequate to deal 
effectively with new developments in general delinquency. 

The laws in regard to labour, which were based on the idea of a permanent 
conflict of interests between employers and employed, were unable to maintain 
industrial peace, which is so necessary to national existence. The increase in 
unemployment heightened the existing tension to a point where it was becoming 
intolerable. 

The sources of the nation's food supplies were in a precarious condition. The 
farmers were heavily in debt and, moreover, their farms were difficult to work 
profitably owing to the dividing up of the land according to the hereditary system. 

Furthermore, a large class of aliens, namely Jews, had migrated to Germany 
from the East, especially during the War, and had gained a decisive influence in 
politics, law, the learned professions, education and in control of the cultural 
organizations. Although the Jews represented only one percent of the whole 
population, they had secured a footing in nearly all the key positions in public life. 

The political transformation which took place in 1933 brought with it the 
introduction of many practical reforms in the realm of law. The threatening 
collapse proved clearly that the existing laws were inadequate to the vital needs of 
the nation and that a change in juridical practice, or the passing of individual 



measures or supplementary laws, would have been insufficient to eliminate such 
profound defects. The situation could be effectively remedied only by creating an 
entirely new order, based on the new political principles which the National 
Revolution had introduced into national life. 

But a new and permanent system could not be created at once. Therefore the 
Reich Government did not hurriedly draw up new codes; but for the time being it 
had to content itself with introducing supplementary laws which would clear the 
way for further developments and prepare the ground for a future systematic code. 
The laws to which the legislator would give final form would have to arise from 
the life of the nation itself. The Academy of German Law was set up as a public 
corporation and within the framework of this organization a number of committees 
are doing the preliminary juristic work which is necessary before the new codes 
can be finally shaped. At the present time the Academy is principally engaged on 
that section of the code which will establish and guarantee the position of the 
family as an integrant unit in the national community. 

The whole body of new legislation is to be inspired by the main ideas which 
dominate the German mind today: namely, the idea of Leadership, the idea of the 
People, and the idea of the Community of the People. 

In order to understand what is the basis of the new legislation one must have a 
clear grasp of what the Germans mean today when they speak of the Community 
of the People, the Volksgemeinschaft. This idea of the people is based on the fact 
that their members have a homogenous national character. When great multitudes 
act together, conscious of their historical unity and determined to pursue the ful- 
filment of one mission as a national unit, then they are a political unit also. Of this 
political unit those who are its leaders form an integrant part. All the members 
form one corporation which is called the Volksgemeinschaft, literally, Folk 
Community. Now the laws that govern the Folk Community emerge from the 
inner spiritual, political and material necessities which have developed through a 
common historical experience. Therefore in the National Socialist sense law is not 
the expression of the State's authority, to which the people must submit as a 
passive and inert mass. In harmony with the concept of the Folk Community, law 
is part of the life of the people. The legislator draws out and gives organic 
expression to the sense of what is just and unjust, the feeling for what is good and 
what is evil, which is inherent in the soul of the people. Therefore the starting 
point of the National Socialist conception of law is the people, not the State. The 
task of the State is to see that the law is carried out. 

The legal system which was introduced into Germany towards the close of the 
middle ages was based on the principles of Roman jurisprudence. These principles 
were revived and reformulated in the nineteenth century. They were entirely 



foreign to German traditions and they proved a perpetual hindrance to the 
development of a uniform system of German law. The German people have not a 
traditional legal system such as that through which the Anglo-Saxon people have 
found expression for their inner sense of justice and which forms the foundation of 
all their legal ideas. In many spheres of German life the introduction of a system 
foreign to the nature of the people separated the operation of the law from the 
naturally developing life of the people. The legislative efforts made by the Second 
Empire ever since 1871 failed to close the breach between the legal instincts of the 
people, developed out of their traditions, and the ideas of learned jurists. The great 
work of codification carried out under the Second Empire was done by men who 
had been trained in the ideas of Roman law. It is a well known fact that this code 
was soon shown to need reform; and yet all attempts to improve it have failed. 

One special factor that played a large part in bringing about an estrangement 
between the laws and the natural legal instincts of the people was the dominant 
position which the Jews acquired in the legal profession. In Berlin alone 1835 or 
54% of the lawyers practising in 1932 were of Jewish extraction. In interpreting 
and applying the German law they were guided by the legal ideas of their own 
race. The difference between the Jewish and German ideas of law is indicated by 
the fact that up to the nineteenth century the Jews received special treatment in the 
courts in view of their different notion of what was legally right and wrong. 
Special forms of oath were drawn up for them and they could not be punished for 
receiving stolen goods. The Law of September 15, 1935 put a stop to the further 
predominance of the Jews; but there are still many Jewish lawyers in Berlin. Out 
of the total of number of lawyers 943 or 32.6% were Jews in 1937. 

In the National Socialist State the Fuhrer is the lawgiver; but he himself is an 
integral part of the Folk Community. And so the National Socialist law follows a 
different principle from that on which the status of a dictatorship is legally based. 
In order to maintain the rule of the dictator external compulsion is necessary; but 
leadership depends on the unconditional authority of conviction. Where there is 
compulsion the individual feels that he has no responsibility to the community or 
to the future, but it is just on this feeling of individual responsibility that the 
National Socialist law is based. The highest honour and the highest ideal consist in 
the service of the community. Honour and internal as well as external freedom are 
essential to the existence of the community. 

Therefore, as the ideal of the Folk Community forms the basic principle of 
National Socialism, a legal form must be found which expresses that principle and 
gives each German his place as a constituent part of the national community. The 
individual does not stand isolated over against the community. A community must 
be made up of members. These members are not the mere objects of its rule or 
social institutions. Each represents the community in himself and has his field of 



activity within it. The total activity of the community depends on the strength and 
achievements of the single members. Therefore the member is not in the position 
of a subject who has no rights on his own account, as is the case in the absolutist 
State. The rights of the community are his rights and on him depend its honour and 
freedom. But he occupies this position for the sake of the community and not for 
the sake of the individual. It implies political duties as well as political rights. 

The National Socialist Revolution did not merely mean the external collapse of 
the existing State. It implied also a change in the fundamental ideas of the State as 
such and its laws. Therefore we should be mistaken if we regarded it merely as a 
revolt against the evils, which existed in 1933. The National Socialist law rather 
represents something essentially new, which is capable of infusing a new life into 
all traditional forms. Fuhrer and people, Folk Community and German citizen, 
constitute the essential elements of the National Socialist conception of law. And 
the purpose of the new laws is to give form to that conception. 

STAAT UND VOLK 

The National Socialist Revolution was not, like other revolutions, carried out by 
a breach of the constitution. The constitutional transition from the Weimar 
Republic to the National Socialist State was given its constitutional form in the 
law establishing the Leadership of the Reich, which was passed on March 24, 
1933. On that date, and by a majority of 441 to 93, the constitutionally elected 
Reichstag transferred the leadership of the Reich to the Reich Government. That 
meant the abandonment of the existing method of legislation. In passing this law 
the Reichstag was acting within its rights as defined by the Weimar Constitution; 
for the latter put no restriction on the ambit of such laws as might be enacted for 
the purpose of altering the Constitution. The stipulated majority had been attained. 
The forms which the Constitution required had been observed. Through this law 
the Reichstag declared its approval of the government proclamation issued by the 
Reich Chancellor. This proclamation laid down the lines along which the work of 
reconstruction, within and without, was to proceed. But the political significance 
of the law goes much further. It acknowledges the leadership as invested in the 
community of the German people. Therewith was abolished the division which the 
variety of political parties had caused in the life of the nation. The Government of 
the Reich was entrusted with the task of carrying out the new reform. By assuming 
the legislative function the Government did not thereby introduce a transitory state 
of emergency which would eventually be terminated by the restoration of the old 
state of affairs. Once and for all the authority of the leaders of the State was 
recognized, and in their hands the legislative and executive powers were 
combined. 



It is not without importance for the development of the legislative activities 
which followed its assumption of power that the National Socialist Revolution was 
accomplished without any violent external breach of the lady, although it 
profoundly influenced the life of the people as a whole and also that of the 
individual German. Up to the present day the Weimar Constitution has not been 
formally abolished. But when the revolution became a fact the Weimar Constitu- 
tion lost all practical importance as the basis of the State, since the national life 
had burst its forms and was seeking new forms of legal expression. The principles 
of the Weimar Republic would be in conflict with the national constitution in 
which the German people live to-day, although as yet no written constitution has 
been drawn up. The Reich Government did not hold it to be their task to issue a 
new constitution. The first foundations have been laid and therewith the ground 
has been made ready for a new legal structure which will be a living embodiment 
of the national life. 

Apart from the law regarding the Reich Leadership the following laws which, 
on account of their fundamental importance, may be regarded as constitutional 
laws have been passed: The Coordination Acts of March 3 1 and April 7, 1933, the 
Plebiscite Act of July 14, 1933, the Act establishing the unity of Party with State 
of December 1, 1933, the Succession Act of August 1, 1934, the Regional 
Governors and Local Government Act of January 30, 1933, the Fighting Services 
Act of March 16, 1935, the Reich Flag Act, the Citizenship of the Reich Act, and 
the Act for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour of September 15, 
1935, the Act reuniting Austria and Germany of March 13, 1938. 

From this list one can see that the centre of gravity of the State does not lie in its 
external structure and in its position in relation to something outside of the State 
itself. The State is determined rather by the internal relationship of the people, 
whom it is meant to serve. State, Party, Economic System and Judicial System, are 
only secondary factors which exist for the service of the people. This is clearly 
shown in the Fuhrer's decree of August 8, 1934, in which he called upon the Reich 
Minister of the Interior to prepare a referendum on the decision of the Government 
to appoint the Fuhrer President of the Reich. 

"I desire that the German People should give their explicit approval to the 
decision of the Cabinet whereby the functions of the former Reich President were 
transferred to me and therewith combined with those of the office of Reich 
Chancellor. Absolutely convinced as I am that all power in the State proceeds 
from the People, I request that the decision of the Cabinet, with any additions 
necessary to be made, should be presented to the German People without delay for 
them to express their opinion on these measures in a free plebiscite." 



This relation between People and State shows how false it is to characterise the 
National Socialist State as a totalitarian State. A State which itself works for an 
end and is not an end in itself cannot in any sense be called a totalitarian State, in 
which the centre of gravity has been shifted to the disadvantage of the individual. 
In such a case the defenceless individual is confronted by an all-powerful State. 
But the National Socialist State exists to serve the People and therewith each 
member. Each German is a member of the whole and therewith called upon to 
cooperate in the life of the State. The term, totality, properly applies to the 
National Socialist Weltanschauung, which is embodied in the whole people and 
activates every branch of national existence. 

The most important of the constitutional laws are those designed to maintain the 
purity of German blood. The word People does not mean for National Socialism 
the total number of German subjects, nor does it mean merely all those with a 
common history. The people is a political factor which has its own being, and in 
order to preserve this being its blood must be kept pure and healthy. The 
foundation of the national being is race. It would be a waste of time to argue about 
the constituents of race. Races are the stones with which God has built up mankind 
and our task can only be to preserve them as such. This is the aim of the Act for 
the Protection of German Blood and German Honour, which was passed by the 
Reichstag on September 15, 1935. The Act ensures that the German people shall 
be clearly separated from the Jewish people living on the same national territory. 
This separation is a strict one, and its results have often seemed to bear harshly on 
the individual. But only a complete separation in life and law can make it tolerable 
for two peoples to live together in the same territory. This is to be attained by 
preventing every kind of blood mixture. Only if there is a healthy mutual feeling 
that the other race is foreign, can hatred and contempt of the one race by the other 
be avoided. This Act secures for the future the necessary biological unity of the 
German people. The Reich Citizen Act of September 15, 1935, supplements the 
other act in the political sphere. It makes a distinction within the State between 
German citizens, who are the representatives and foundation of its greatness, and 
those persons who merely reside in the State for their own profit. "Only those who 
are nationals can be citizens of the State. They alone are nationals who are of 
German blood, no distinction of religious creed being made. Therefore no Jew can 
be looked upon as a national." (Party Programme, Point 4). Reich Citizens alone 
possess full political rights. They alone can exercise the franchise, can occupy 
official positions, can take part in the Reichstag elections or plebiscites. Only they 
can become members of the Reichstag or of a State council, a provincial council, 
town council or district council, or may become civil servants or hold honorary 
public office. A condition for the granting of these rights is that such persons 
should be capable and willing loyally to serve the German people and the German 
Reich. 



When this distinction had been made between citizens of the Reich, whose 
rights are granted to them in the form of a certificate of Reich Citizenship, and 
Reich subjects, who merely belong to the German State as protective units, it 
became necessary to regulate the position of those who are only partly of Jewish 
blood and are at present domiciled in Germany. The lot of such persons, who stand 
between two essentially different races, is especially difficult and has been the 
subject of much discussion. To solve the question it was necessary to make 
far-reaching concessions. These consisted in laying down the rule that all those 
who have less than three Jewish grandparents and do not declare their allegiance 
to the Jewish people should not count as Jews and should be allowed under certain 
circumstances to be absorbed into the German nation. Only those subjects who are 
descended from three or four Jewish grandparents count as Jews. Subjects who 
have two Jewish grandparents can get the permission to marry persons of German 
blood. They and the subject who only has one Jewish grandparent may in future be 
absorbed into the German body politic under certain conditions. This regulation 
benefits those who have one or two Jewish grandparents. But it could not have 
been successful if it had not been accompanied by the repeal of the Aryan 
regulations regarding private clubs and societies etc. But it has been made 
impossible for all time that the country should ever again be ruled politically or 
culturally by Jews. The more severe restrictions embodied in legal enactments or 
party regulations remain as they were. The German people will be robust enough 
to stand this admixture of foreign blood if they are in future protected from any 
further mixture. In special cases the Fuhrer can grant exemption from the Act. 

The National Socialist Party is the organization which represents the political 
life of the people. It is the only political organization in the German Reich; for the 
Act of July 15, 1933, stipulated that, the old party system having been superseded, 
no new parties should be formed. The task of the Party is to inspire each individual 
with a feeling of duty towards the nation. The Party does not owe its position to 
tile State but exists in its own right. Actually the present State existed ideally in 
the Party before it was established in fact. All the laws passed by the new State 
only carry into effect the principles of the Party and the Party holds the dominant 
position in political life. Yet, in spite of holding this dominant position, those 
Germans who are not members of the Party are not thereby precluded from 
playing their part in political life; for the people as a whole have become the 
repository of political power through the National Socialist Revolution. The 
position of the Party in relation to the State was further defined in a special Act 
providing for unification of the Party with the State. This Act was passed on 
December, 1, 1933. In practice the unity thus legally established had been already 
brought about through the appointment of the Fuhrer as Head of the State and 
through a widespread personal union in Party and State offices. The Act supplies 
the legal basis of this practical union. But the Act did not aim as drawing a clear 
line of demarcation and division between the various spheres of activity carried on 



by the Party and the State respectively. Its aim was rather to open a way for 
combined work and collaboration. Externally the new position was given formal 
expression in the appointment of the Fuhrer' s Deputy as Cabinet Minister without 
portfolio. As such his duties do not appertain to any one department of State. He 
devotes himself exclusively to Party affairs and supervises the influence it 
exercises on many of the internal affairs of the State. This combination of State 
and Party has given the National Socialist State its characteristic form. This may 
be observed in all departments of public life. 

The Reich Leadership Law, subsequently amended and supplemented by the 
Reich Reconstruction Act of January 30, 1934, represented a rejection of the 
hitherto existing forms of representative democracy. It placed new emphasis on 
direct democracy by means of elections and plebiscites, the adoption of which was 
greatly extended. Formerly the mistake was frequently made of identifying demo- 
cracy with peculiar institutions allied to it. For this reason people generally 
assumed that because Germany had abandoned the system of having several 
political parties and the system of legislation through parliamentary vote, she had 
thereby abandoned the democratic principle itself. But democracy signifies the 
sovereignty of the people and implies that political leaders should be responsible 
to and representative of the majority of the people. Accordingly if we consider the 
life of the German people from within we must admit that, independently of the 
dispute about democracy or dictatorship, a fundamental change has taken place in 
Germany and that this change amounts to the establishment of a direct form of 
democracy. Nobody can say that the Fuhrer has not recognized the sovereignty of 
the people as the supreme ruling principle in the State. He has repeatedly 
submitted his work to the judgment of the people and no one has more right to act 
and speak in the name of the people than he has. The democratic principle is also 
being put into practice through the fact that we are steadily developing a political 
leadership as an emergent from the mass of the people. A process of selection 
whereby really capable men belonging to the masses of the people can be 
appointed to positions of leadership without regard to origin or possessions, 
superior fitness only being taken into account. In his speech to the Reichstag on 
January 30, 1937, the Fuhrer said: "By this process of selection, which will follow 
the laws of Nature and the dictates of human reason, those among our people who 
show the greatest natural ability will be appointed to positions in the political 
leadership of the nation. In making the selection no consideration will be given to 
birth or ancestry, name or wealth, but only to the question of whether or not the 
candidate has a natural vocation for those higher positions of leadership." 

The Act of July 14, 1933, set forth the legal procedure for the carrying out of a 
plebiscite. It authorises the Reich Government to obtain the verdict of the people 
as sovereign power, not only on matters of legislation but also on other measures. 
If a particular law be the subject of a plebiscite the favourable verdict of that 



plebiscite is not merely an act of approval but is in itself a formal enactment. 
Within the first four years of the National Socialist regime there have been four 
Reichstag elections and three plebiscites. The subjects of the plebiscites were 
respectively Germany's withdrawal from the League of Nations, the repudiation of 
the military clauses of the Versailles Treaty, the assumption by Adolf Hitler of the 
office of President of the Reich, and the reunion of Austria and Germany. 

The national unity brought about by the Revolution called for a corresponding 
unity of the State in accordance with the unity of the popular will. Thus a 
long-standing desire on the part of the best elements of the German people finds 
its fulfilment in constitutional law. The federal structure of the German Reich had 
its origin in dynastic rule which, even under the Second Empire, was sovereign in 
the respective federative states. The presidential decree of January 28, 1933, 
already empowered the Government of the Reich to take the necessary steps, by 
the appointment of Reich Commissioners, for the maintenance of law and order in 
the various federative states. The first decisive step towards constitutional 
unification was the Act of March 31, 1933. This Act stipulated that the 
composition of the parliaments of the federative states and also of the local 
councils should be altered in accordance with the results of the Reichstag election. 
Therewith those bodies were given a uniform political direction and the entrusting 
of legislative power to the federative states according to the principles laid down 
in the Reich Leadership Act led to the unification of political leadership. The 
dissolution of the Reichstag on November 14, 1933, led automatically to the 
dissolution of the federative parliaments and the latter were not re-elected. The 
Reconstruction Act of January 20, 1934, legally abolished the federative 
parliaments. The Act of April 7, 1933, subordinated the activities of the federative 
governments to the Government of the Reich. A Governor was appointed for each 
of the larger federative states, such as Bavaria and Saxony, and the smaller 
federative states were divided into groups, a Governor being placed over each 
group. These Governors took over a number of duties formerly carried on by the 
federative governments. As representatives of the Fuhrer, the Governors have to 
see that the work of the federative governments is directed towards consolidating 
the political unity of the Reich. One of the principal duties of the Governor is to 
appoint and dismiss prime ministers and other ministers of the federative 
governments. He draws up and promulgates the laws for his respective federative 
state. He appoints civil servants and may dismiss those not appointed by the 
Reich. The Act of January 30, 1934, transferred the last remnants of federative 
sovereignty to the Reich. In virtue of this measure the governments of the 
federative states became mere channels of Reich administration. Legislation in the 
federative states requires the approval of the competent Reich Minister. The 
administration of justice has been taken over directly by the Reich. But in spite of 
this centralization of all power in the hands of the Reich Government the position 
of a Governor is maintained in the Act of January 30, 1935. He is a link between 



the Reich and the federative authorities, and has been entrusted with some of the 
functions of the Reich Government so that, where necessary, special local 
conditions can betaken into consideration. In this way, notwithstanding a 
unification of the Reich, the traditional characters of the various branches of the 
German people will be maintained. 

But the laws which have been promulgated up to now do not represent the final 
stage of constitutional development. They merely clear the way for further 
development. The formation of a new Constitution is to take place not from above, 
but from below, from the smallest cells in the community of the State, the 
Communes. They were therefore the first to receive their Constitution, embodied 
in the Local Government Act of 1935. But this Act is not only of interest for the 
political life of the Communes. In many respects it is an attempt to try out on a 
small scale things which may eventually be of importance for the Constitution of 
the State. The Local Community Act is thus one of the foundations of the National 
Socialist State, and on the ground prepared by it the new structure of the Reich 
will be raised. The provisions contained in the Local Community Act are derived 
from old and valuable German ideas of law. Its most important part was advocated 
by Baron von Stein, for the aim is to give the Communes a great measure of 
independence so that they can contribute to the fullest extent to the good of the 
whole nation. The form which was chosen for the realization of this purpose 
represents one of the first examples of the National Socialist idea of the Folk 
Community as applied to the administration. The Local Community Act does not 
therefore look upon the Commune as merely a technical and economic 
administrative unit, but regards it as a community formed according to the special 
conditions of the neighbourhood. The law encourages a sturdy independence in 
each district so that each citizen may, through his work in the narrower community 
of the Commune, cooperate sensibly and with a full sense of responsibility in the 
work of the larger community of the nation. He is therefore no longer a mere 
number among many millions, but has his special function in political life. For this 
reason the Commune is not regarded simply as a passive organ for carrying out the 
commands of the State, but within the limited framework of its district bears the 
responsibility for fulfilling those tasks which concern the National community. 
The nature of German local government can be summarized under the following 
three headings: 

1. In principle the Commune has to carry out its own tasks on its own 
responsibility. State supervision is limited to ensuring that the administration is 
according to the laws and in harmony with the general policy of the State. But this 
supervision cannot lead to the State taking over the organs of administration when 
it disagrees with the measures adopted by a Commune. The Supervisory Board 
can only prevent the putting into force of decrees which run counter to the political 
aims of the Reich government: it cannot compel the local authority to carry out 



any particular measures. The Commune is left to solve its own problems in its own 
way. It is thus made sure that the State supervision will in no way hamper the 
initiative and enterprise of the local authorities. It must be left to the Commune to 
correct any mistakes which are made. In this way every member of the Commune 
is trained in political sound thinking. 

2. In the person of the Mayor the Commune possesses its own particular organ 
for the forming of decisions. Neither he nor the Aldermen are appointed by the 
State. The Mayor is appointed by the Commune itself, and the Aldermen by the 
Deputies of the Party. The Local Community Act stipulates that those citizens are 
to be made Aldermen whose professions are representative of the Commune and 
its special problems. This means that only those who are in close touch with the 
life of the Commune and feel themselves therefore naturally responsible for its 
welfare are qualified to be Councillors. 

3. The citizen of the Commune is called upon to play a part in the making of 
decisions and to cooperate in the administration. The new Act is not concerned to 
ensure that every citizen should once a year, by means of a secret vote, 
symbolically assert his responsibility for the local administration: it is concerned 
to bring about the actual collaboration of each citizen and to ensure that each 
member of the community shall bear his actual share of responsibility. The 
maintenance of certain technical forms is no guarantee that real self-government 
exists. The latter is guaranteed only when each citizen not merely has the right, but 
also the duty to cooperate in the administration. There are many honorary workers, 
and the Local Community Act requires that no one should refuse an honorary 
position. The extent to which this honorary collaboration has been introduced is 
shown by the following: of the 51,311 Communes in Germany 96.03% are ruled 
over by Mayors whose posts are honorary. Out of a total 138,895 Aldermen 
99.42% are honorary. There are in addition 291,234 Councillors and 305,248 
Assistant Councillors; so that 777,973 citizens hold honorary positions whilst only 
2,770 devote themselves to local government work as their chief profession. 

Like the State, the Commune is built up on the principle of leadership. This 
principle does not merely mean that one person has the right to lead, it implies also 
that this leader is the representative embodiment of the community. The position 
of leader implies responsibility for the community as well as authority in the 
community based on the work done for it. The Mayor of the Commune must not 
be content to administer the Commune according to the law and to increase its 
economic efficiency. He must not look upon the Commune merely as an economic 
unit, but must always bear in mind that it is made up of individual men and 
women who are his fellow-countrymen. He must therefore always seek their 
collaboration and not retire into his office to lead there a secluded existence. The 
Local Government Act presupposes a living contact between the Mayor and his 



Commune. Where such relations do not already exist the Act opens the way for 
their introduction. This is the basic element in the whole Act, and the life of the 
Commune is founded on it. The special work to be done in each Commune 
depends on local conditions, canal construction e.g., which goes beyond the limits 
of any individual Commune is undertaken by associations of Communes. Cultural 
policy presents a wide sphere of activity for the Commune. The encouragement of 
cultural activity is especially important for the Commune, because in local 
government it is easier than in State policy to establish contact with the individual 
citizen. The community feeling which grows from people living in close proximity 
is a good basis for cultural work. In the economic sphere the activity of the 
Commune is restricted by the fact that it may not enter into competition with the 
economic activity of its members. The community can only undertake work which 
individual initiative has failed to accomplish. The Commune is not on that account 
bound to confine itself to the provision of water and electricity. It can also devote 
itself to other tasks which are of service to the community. But commercial 
undertakings must not be carried on merely for their own sake and for the sake of 
the profit they may yield. 

Since the number of towns with over 10,000 inhabitants has grown 
considerably, we find a professional bureaucracy side by side with the honorary 
workers. The ordered administration of these towns demands a high degree of 
legal knowledge such as the honorary worker cannot always be assumed to 
possess. But these professional officials too are subject to the Mayor. They act 
only as the auxiliaries of local government. This legal administration is not 
therefore in any sort of opposition to the political administration, but is rather an 
integral part of it. In every Commune a Deputy of the Party is appointed, and this 
Deputy has to exercise his influence in such a way as to ensure, in accordance with 
the unity of Party and State, that the work of local government is in line with the 
general policy of the Reich. He must not interfere in matters of everyday adminis- 
tration. But even in cases where the Mayor is bound to act in collaboration with 
the Party Deputy the former is still held personally responsible for decisions 
suggested to him by the Deputy. If a measure taken by the Mayor is vetoed by the 
Party Deputy, and if the Mayor nevertheless still holds such a measure to be 
necessary, he must lay the matter before the higher departments of the State 
administration for their verdict. As far as finance is concerned the powers of local 
authorities are restricted. The extraordinarily widespread indebtedness of the 
period before 1933 made it necessary to strengthen the supervisory powers of the 
State. But the Act concerning Taxes on Real Estate and Commercial Transactions, 
of December 1, 1936, has already increased the financial independence of the 
Communes to a considerable extent. A further easing of the restrictions is planned 
for the future. The German conception of self-government does not regard the 
financial part as the decisive one. The essential is the development of community 
life, the inculcation of sound political ideas and a sense of political responsibility. 



The Local Government Act had laid down very strict provision to ensure that the 
economic policy of the Communes would be carried on in an orderly and sane 
manner. The Local Community Act also gave the Commune the right to make its 
own laws. The Commune may formulate and enact a special Constitution for 
itself, in accordance with the principles laid down in the Act, and this Constitution 
does not require the approval of the Supervisory Authority in so far as it does not 
affect the position of the Commune within the framework of the State. 

Apart from the Local Community Act two further aspects of life within the 
State have been given their final form: By the Act of May 21, 1935, military 
service was declared a service of honour to the German People. The Army, Navy 
and Air Force are the only bodies entitled to bear weapons for the State and they 
form a training school for soldierly qualities. Further, by the Act of June 26, 1935, 
general compulsory Labour Service was introduced. This institution plays a vital 
part in the life of the people as moulded by National Socialist ideas. Its purpose is 
to imbue every young German with a proper respect for manual work and with the 
right attitude to labour. 

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT 

In no field of German law was the desire for reform and for a revision of the 
existing code so strong as in the field of criminal law. As far back as 1900 the 
Congress of German Jurists had stated that the reform of the criminal code was 
one of the most urgent tasks which legislators had to fulfil. From 1909 to 1927 no 
less than five drafts were published; but the work remained nevertheless 
uncompleted. This continual discussion of reform and search for a solution led to a 
regrettable weakening in the position of the judicature and made the combatting of 
crime more difficult. For this reason we were compelled to direct our attention 
first of all to the reform of the criminal code which, more than any other part of 
the law, expresses the political attitude of the nation. In Autumn 1933 the Reich 
Minister of justice, acting on behalf of the Fuhrer, appointed a Commission for the 
drawing up of a criminal code; and this commission, after three years' work, 
completed a draft which has now been presented to the Reich Government for its 
consideration and approval. The draft itself has indeed not yet been made known 
in all its details, but the reports published about it have attracted considerable 
attention. Detailed opinions have been expressed on it, so that the underlying ideas 
are now generally known. The public discussion of the plans in the draft has done 
much to clarify people's ideas on the subject, so that the ground has been well 
prepared for the reception of the new law. 

The plans of reform have already been anticipated by two Acts the 
consideration of which will enable us to get an idea of the present position of 
criminal law. Both are quite at variance with the principles, on which criminal 



laws have been based hitherto. The latter sought not only to protect society, but 
also to protect the criminal against the arbitrary actions of society. The two new 
laws seek simply to protect society against every sort of criminal attack. The task 
of the criminal code must not be to safeguard the lawbreakers but only to 
contribute towards the preservation and safeguarding of the people and to combat 
those asocial elements which seek either to avoid their duties towards the 
community as a whole, or to offend against the interests of the people (Hitler, 
January 30, 1937). Above persons and things stands the community of the people 
and any breach of loyalty is a legal offence. The interpretation of the statutes 
according to the mere letter of the law had therefore to be abolished. The 
Supplementary Law of June 28, 1935, lays down that a punishment may be 
inflicted not only when the law prescribes it, but also when a sound sense of 
justice requires punishment for the act committed, and when the fundamental idea 
underlying a paragraph of the criminal code is applicable to such an act. Hitherto 
criminal law had compelled the judge to keep closely to the letter of the law. He 
had to do this because apart from the existing statutes no law was recognized. A 
judgment, therefore, which was not based on a strict interpretation of the words of 
a law necessarily appeared arbitrary. If, like National Socialism, one does not limit 
the law to the written statutes, one must admit that there may be cases not 
specified in the statute which are in effect just as criminal as acts enumerated 
therein and therefore ought to be punished. 

The Supplementary Act of June 28, 1935, does not state that judgment should 
be based on the subjective feeling of the judge. It requires the latter to take account 
of the people's sense of justice and then to decide according to an objective 
standard-the root principles of the particular paragraph of the criminal 
code-whether actions similar to those punishable in the law have been committed. 
Only if such is the case he may inflict punishment, and this punishment must be 
such as is prescribed by the law. The judge is thus bound by the law; for every law 
represents a political decision of the Country's leaders, the judge having therefore 
only that amount of freedom which the law specifically allows. The law does not 
regard the people's sense of justice as being merely any particular view of law held 
by the masses, but rather as the sound and dispassionate judgment of the average 
citizen. The judge must therefore in future base his judgments on the law of the 
German People. 

With this supplementary law the well-known principle that only those crimes 
can be punished which are exactly described in the law (nullum crimen sine lege) 
has been abandoned. This principle has been described as one of the foundations 
of criminal law in all States with European civilization, and for this reason it was 
also included in the Weimar Constitution. The study of comparative law reveals, 
however, that this view is incorrect. By "lege" we understand only statutory law 
and not judicial decisions and prescriptive law, however generally recognized the 



latter may be. In Great Britain most of the criminal law has been revised and 
regulated by statutes. But homicide is still subject to Common Law. However 
strictly statutory law may be interpreted the principle "nullum crimen sine lege" 
cannot be maintained here. Apart from this the English Statutes, through the 
variety of their language and the rules of interpretation contained in them, give the 
judge an amount of freedom quite unknown in the German courts. But prescriptive 
law exists outside the United Kingdom, as for instance in three Swiss Cantons. In 
Denmark the criminal code goes so far as to admit the application of the law to 
cases analogous to those specified therein. In Norway, Sweden, and Finnland this 
manner of interpretation is indeed not explicitly permitted by the law, but in 
practice the analogy principle is applied in many important cases. It must, 
however, be admitted that the unrestricted use of analogy would open the way to 
all sorts of interpretation, so the judges themselves might finally evolve a law 
which would be remote from the life of the people and opposed to that popular 
sense of justice which should be the source of all unwritten law. For this reason 
German law provides for a combination of root principles contained in the written 
law and the popular sense of justice, so that these two factors may correct each 
other. A number of the Federal States of North America have also included in their 
Criminal Codes the provision that the application of the law must not be restricted 
to a literal interpretation, but must take account of the basic ideas of the law. The 
Criminal Code of the State of New York contains, in Article 675, the provision 
that anyone who commits acts against the person or property of another, who 
disturbs the peace or the public health, or offends against decency, may be 
punished, although the act be not included in the written catalogue of punishable 
acts. The claim that the administration of public law in all civilized states demands 
strict interpretation of the law and forbids analogy cannot be maintained. Even in 
those countries where this rule is to be found a law may be so loosely drafted or a 
crime so widely defined that in practice the judge is given complete freedom to 
decide as to what acts the law applies. Thus when the Supreme Court of 
Switzerland asserts that a person can only be prosecuted if he infringes some law 
there is no doubt that what is meant is that no other punishment may be inflicted 
but what is prescribed in the law. But this principle does not mean that those who 
draw up a law are compelled to give a detailed list of all offences which might be 
punishable under that law. They are, on the contrary, at liberty to substitute 
technical names for groups of crimes or to use some general conception of crime. 
Thus in the application of a statutory law the conception of larceny may be 
interpreted by the judge according to his own views of law. This practice too is 
provided for in the Supplementary Law of June 28, 1935. But it has to be stated 
that the departure from the principle nullum crimen sine lege, does not mean 
abandonment of nulla poena sine lege. Only such kinds of punishments can be 
inflicted which are known to the code. 



The purpose of criminal law is to defend the community against all that may 
endanger it and therefore the Supplementary Law of November 24, 1933, contains 
provisions to combat habitual crime, and measures to safeguard the public. 
Formerly the criminal had to be released after he had served his sentence, even 
when it could be foreseen that his asocial disposition would lead him to abuse his 
liberty by committing further acts against the social order. How often did the 
unhappy mother of murdered children or violated girls ask the Court if it was 
really necessary to set the criminal free again to attack unfortunate creatures and 
inflict serious injury on the community. But this law enables the judge to sentence 
dangerous habitual criminals to a severer punishment than is prescribed for normal 
cases. The extent to which the punishment may be increased is stated in the 
Supplementary Law itself, A dangerous habitual criminal is a person who 
repeatedly ~ generally speaking, three times ~ commits an offence, and who 
shows from the general circumstances of the cases, that he not only habitually 
commits crimes but that he is, for the future as well as the present, a danger to 
society. These provisions therefore refer only to serious crimes, and not to such 
misconduct as habitual begging etc. Apart from increasing the punishment, the law 
prescribes preventive detention as a final means of protecting the public. This is 
not considered a penal measures. The crime itself is punished by imprisonment, 
but if that is not sufficient to protect the community for the future the criminal is 
interned in order to keep him from doing further harm. This internment lasts until 
the criminal is no longer held to be a danger to society, and a periodical 
examination ensures that the term is not extended beyond what is necessary. A 
further protective measure is the castration of dangerous habitual sex criminals, a 
measure which exists also in certain North American States and in Denmark. This 
is indeed a permanent and serious interference with the bodily integrity of the 
criminal, but it makes it possible to preserve him from a complete loss of freedom 
or long internment. By means of this operation the urge to commit sexual offences 
is at any rate so weakened that it no longer represents a source of danger. The Law 
also makes it possible to have a criminal transferred to a home for inebriates or to 
a labour settlement, if there is a prospect of educative methods being successful in 
combatting the criminal tendency. In the same way the Law provides that, in cases 
where the Court is bound to acquit the accused on account of insanity, it may order 
the accused to be kept in an asylum or home. The success of these measures for 
dealing with criminals is shown by the following figures: The year 1935 showed, 
in comparison to 1932, the following reduction in crime: Homicide 33.9%, 
robbery with violence 64.2%, arson 22.8%. (The reduction in the figures for 
larceny cannot be given as a basis for comparison since they have been affected by 
a number of amnesty laws.) Those who have had any experience of practical work 
in connection with the fight against crime can bear witness to the deterrent effect 
which these measures have on habitual criminals. The Supplementary Law of June 
25, 1935, also contains a provision which, based on the idea of the national 
community, makes it obligatory on every individual citizen to render assistance in 



an emergency. Anyone who does not assist in cases of general emergency or 
accidents, although he was in a position to do so without endangering his own 
person, is liable to punishment. 

Although these two supplementary laws have perhaps anticipated the most vital 
measures in the new Criminal Code, the latter will nevertheless contain so many 
innovations that we must give a short account of it here. The new code is above all 
a further step on the way towards the establishment of a pure principle of guilt. In 
doing so it takes account not only of the psychological connection between the 
criminal and his crime, but also ethical considerations. In future criminal law will 
hold that for guilt to be established it is necessary not only to demonstrate that the 
criminal knew what the results of a crime would be and intentionally agreed to 
them, or that the offence was brought about through a lack of reasonable care. It 
will be necessary to show also that the offender knew, or might have known, that 
he was doing wrong. A person may commit an act which has only just been made 
an offence by a newly promulgated law, or the circumstances may be so 
complicated that this may be a reason why he could not know he was doing 
wrong. It has always been considered unfair that such a person should be punished 
merely because he was conscious of what he was doing at the time of the offence. 
Thus an old woman of German nationality who moved from Switzerland in order 
to settle down in Germany and knew nothing of the foreign exchange regulations 
was condemned for not having registered a small foreign account, although there 
was no doubt as to her ignorance of the legal regulations. Since the jurisprudence 
of the future will regard crime not merely as an offence against the explicit 
provisions of the law, but also as an attack on the community, as an act directed 
against the life of the nation, it will be necessary to take into account whether an 
offender himself recognized, or could have recognized, this aspect of his offence. 
Judges will indeed have to investigate very carefully the offender's claim that he 
was unconscious of having done wrong, and the claim will certainly not be 
allowed if it refers to acts which do not accord with the fundamental views of the 
nation on right or wrong. The claim that a criminal did not know that stealing and 
murder are forbidden will obviously not be entertained, but in the above 
mentioned case of the old lady the accused would be acquitted, which would only 
be in harmony with sound ideas of justice. The demand that the punishment of an 
offender requires not only that the latter knew what he was doing, but also that he 
knew he was doing wrong, represents an important departure from the doctrine of 
guilt as incorporated in the criminal law of all European States. It means in fact 
that in criminal law justice and ethics are no longer fundamentally separate. If we 
realize that the individual no longer exists apart from the community, and 
therefore can no longer have a distinct, and perhaps different ethical code, but is, 
as member of the community, the representative of its ethical views, then we must 
admit that this change in the conception of criminal guilt follows inevitably. 
Attempted crime will also be treated differently. According to the law existing 



hitherto, this was punished only in reference to serious crimes and then to a lesser 
degree than for the crime actually committed. An attempt is distinguished from a 
crime actually committed by the-fact that the purpose of the crime has not been 
completely attained. Since the coming criminal law concentrates on the intention 
to commit a crime it must punish any attempt to do so and only admits a 
mitigation of penalty when the non-accomplishment of the crime can be shown to 
be due to a low intensity of will on the part of the criminal. 

The second part of the draft, which describes the separate penal offences, has 
also been extended to an important degree. The grouping has been carried out 
according to the importance of the object of the criminal act. First and foremost 
comes the protection of the people against crimes of treason, then comes the 
protection of national resources, of the nation's life (race and heredity, defensive 
power, labour power, national health), of the moral and spiritual ideals of the 
people (marriage and the family, morality and religious beliefs, respect for the 
dead, protection of animals), of commerce and national property, and further the 
maintenance of national institutions and order (leadership of the people, public 
order, justice) and the maintenance of honesty (offences against good faith, 
property, and criminal self-interest). In working out this new criminal law it was 
possible to draw on the results of decades of work done by learned jurists. But the 
fundamental provisions of former supplementary laws have also been incorporated 
in order to assure the uniformity of criminal law. 

One of the most important parts of the new criminal code are the rules 
concerning penalties and the assessment of the penalties for each particular law. 
There has been no important change in the method of punishment. The future 
criminal law will also contain the death penalty, penal servitude and 
imprisonment. It provides, in addition, for fines, but makes these dependent on the 
financial circumstances of the individual, the daily income of the offender being 
taken as a basis for calculation. Penal arrest is abandoned. Imprisonment in a 
fortress as 'custodia honesta' is maintained. In laying down the separate penalties 
care has been taken in regard to punishments of extreme severity, such as the death 
penalty, to provide the alternative of penal servitude, so that the judge himself may 
have the possibility of commuting the death penalty in cases where the degree of 
culpability may not equal the objective wickedness of the crime. Above all the 
punishment inflicted in each individual case must depend on the actual guilt of the 
offender. In meting out punishment the judge must take into account the criminal 
intent, in cases of negligence the degree of carelessness and the indifference of the 
offender as regards the outcome of his offence, also the necessity of safeguarding 
the community, and the danger and injury caused by the offender, as well as his 
behaviour after the offence. Thus the law aims at imposing penalties which will 
correspond to each crime viewed as a whole, for only then can criminal law be an 
effective weapon for the protection of society. It is not intended to introduce the 



punishment of flogging, for the effects of this punishment in other countries have 
not been such as to recommend its use. 

The recasting of criminal law will also lead to new rules for the trial of criminal 
cases. The great emphasis laid on the community in criminal law will imply an 
extensive participation of the lay element in the administration of justice. The 
preliminary proceedings, which aim at clearing up the facts of the crime, will be 
placed in the hands of the Public Prosecutor. In important points he will have to 
cooperate with a judge. In the main trial the judge, who independently administers 
justice in the name of the people, is entirely free from the influence of the public 
prosecutor, both as regards the conduct of the trial and the handling of the case. 
The establishment of special courts for individual groups of crime which are 
specially important and delicate, e.g. political offences, will be maintained as 
permanent institutions, since their utility has been proved. A special degree and 
special kind of expert knowledge is required in dealing with these crimes, so that 
they can only be entrusted to judges trained in this special sphere. But work on the 
rules for the conduct of trials has only just begun, so that it is not as yet possible to 
say anything final on this subject. 

LABOUR 

Since 1933 there has been an energetic development in all aspects of the law 
dealing with labour. Labour organization has also been reformed through the 
Organization of Labour Act (January 20, 1934). Connected with that measure is a 
revised Labour Courts Act, as well as an Act concerning the Introduction of the 
Work Book (February 26, 1936) which provides the authorities with the data 
necessary for a planned distribution of labour. Rules governing labour contracts 
have also been laid down. The Act for the Protection of Wages in Homework 
(June 8, 1933), and the Homework Law (March 23, 1934) the essential part of 
which protects the worker from a lowering of wages, but which also makes it 
possible to prohibit homework tending to endanger life, health, and morality, 
further, the Hours of Work Act (July 26, 1934), the Act concerning Hours of Work 
in Bakeries and Confectioner's Shops (June 29, 1936). The eight-hour day is 
prescribed as a general rule. In concerns dangerous to health the time of work 
must be reduced. In the sphere of labour protection we have regulations 
concerning work with compressed air (May 29, 1935), an Act regarding the 
Accomodation for Workers in the Building Trade (December 13, 1934), which 
provides for a healthy and adequate accomodation for workers (male and female) 
in coal mines, in roller and hammer works and in the glass industry (March 12, 
1933). In addition to the reorganization of sickness, invalidity and accident 
insurance, social insurance as a whole has been reformed so as to ensure its 
efficient and economical working. 



All these Acts can be easily fitted into the existing framework of this 
department of law, but merely to give their names does not tell us anything of the 
completely new attitude towards everything concerning labour law. The former 
labour law centred on the worker's associations and recognized these organizations 
for class-conflict as statutory corporations, thus giving them a place in the life of 
the State. But such associations are now completely at variance with the ideas 
embodied in the Labour Organization Law. Labour organization has undergone a 
fundamental change. The National Socialist State has not sought to make a 
compromise between the National Socialist and the capitalist organization of 
industry and labour. In place of the opposition of Labour and Capital, of employer 
and employed, the Labour Organization Act has set up the Works Community, 
which exists to serve the whole people. "To serve the highest interests of the 
community of the people they are not employers and employed, but labour 
deputies of the people." (Hitler at the Motor Exhibition, 1935). Work in every 
form is the fulfilment of a duty towards the community. For every German, work 
means the fulfilment of life's purpose. Therewith the nonsensical idea that manual 
work is on an inferior plane is finally refuted. The skilled worker at the boring 
machine is fulfilling a much more essential task than that of the clerk in the factory 
office, even though the latter may call himself a "brainworker". The value of any 
work done within the framework of the Folk-Community depends of its necessity 
for the life of the nation. The meaning of social honour lies in the fulfilment of this 
duty and in respect for the worker. Honour is the basis of our national life and the 
most precious possession of our people. It must, by its very nature, be all 
inclusive. It must penetrate every sphere of national life and be its basic principle. 
Community and Honour are inseparably bound together. It is therefore the 
foundation of the Works Community. 

Labour is not regarded as being merely the physical capacity to perform certain 
tasks. Labour is an activity that is of value to the community. Labour as a whole is 
national labour, and each individual worker is only a member of the working Folk 
Community, helping to accomplish the task which the people as a whole have to 
fulfil. The laws of national life also require labour as a means of selection and of 
stimulating spiritual and moral forces. Labour is thus a communityforming factor. 
We cannot therefore consider labour and the circumstances and conditions under 
which it is carried out, matters such as the worker's safety, conditions of dismissal 
and holidays, working hours and wages, merely as subjects for private agreements 
which the community has to put up with, however harmful they may be. They 
must rather be regulated by the law which governs the life of the whole people, for 
they concern the whole community. 

The work in each individual factory or business is therefore carried out for the 
common benefit of people and state, and its success or failure affects the fate of 
the whole nation. The position of the employer as leader of his business is 



subordinate to this task. His work in cooperation with the workers he employs is 
based not on mutual services rendered, but on the common work done for the 
nation. The employer's position as leader does not therefore mean that he is master 
in his own house and can do what he likes. It means rather that he is responsible 
for what his firm does for the community. The employer is bound to his workers 
by the fact that they are all participating in the labour of the nation. The essence of 
this cooperation lies in social honour, which means performances of duty, and 
respect for every kind of work. To offend against this principle of honour is to 
infringe the order of things embodied in the Labour Organization Act. 

The form given to the Works Community necessitates that it should be 
self-governing. The organ of this self-government is the Mutual Trust Council, 
which consists of the leader of the firm and members elected by the workers. Its 
task is above all to assist in the drawing up of the works regulations, to see that 
suitable measures for protection against accidents are taken, and to strengthen 
mutual confidence. 

The carrying out of this labour code is in the hands of the Labour Trustees who 
are appointed for each district. Their task is however not to use official means of 
compulsion to bring about the formation of Works Communities. A Community 
cannot be created by compulsion. The Labour Trustee must, by using his personal 
influence, by education and advice of a general and particular nature, ensure that 
State compulsion is in general unnecessary. The activity of the Labour Trustee up 
to now has shown that although they have used, when necessary, the powers given 
them under the Act, they have avoided any serious interference which might have 
led to the failure of their efforts. 

The Labour Trustees are supported in their work by the German Labour Front, 
which is the community of all working Germans. It is a social self-governing 
corporation. As such it took over the former social institutions of the workers and 
has extended and perfected them by means of a mighty organization. It further 
helps its members by improving the conditions under which they live and assists 
them in the event of unforeseen misfortunes. Since the organization includes 
employers as well as workers it can exercise a considerable influence on working 
conditions in the individual firms and on the formation of Works Communities in 
accordance with the principles laid down by the Labour Trustees. If there is 
deliberate and malicious opposition to the orders of the Labour Trustee, the latter 
may appeal to the Courts of Social Honour. Paragraph 36 of the Labour 
Organization Act gives the exhaustive list of actions which are punishable as 
offences against social honour. By establishing these courts the State has 
embarked on something entirely new. They have been entrusted with the task of 
elaborating through their own decisions a law of national labour. Misdemeanours 
enumerated in the Act are malicious exploitation of labour, offences against a 



person's honour, malicious endangering of industrial peace, breaches of general 
decrees issued by the Labour Trustee, and betrayal of commercial secrets by the 
members of the Labour Councils. But it is assumed that all such actions proceed 
from an asocial attitude of mind. The extent and effects of these penal regulations 
will be best shown by means of a few practical examples. 

The Courts of Honour have passed sentences on account of malicious 
exploitation of labour for the following actions: the inadequate payment of work in 
violation of wage agreements, retention of wages, nonpayment for overtime, 
excessive work, bad conditions of board and lodging, refusal of holidays, and 
breaches of important regulations for the avoidance of accidents. There is also the 
case of an employer who did not allow the workers to do their jobs in peace and 
quiet, but was continually bothering them and urging them on with abusive 
language. An employer was condemned for an offence against honour because he 
refused to have the sick children of a worker taken to hospital in a neighbouring 
town in accordance with the doctor's instructions; he said he wished to spare his 
horses. His action in this case was not an insult to honour within the meaning of 
the Criminal Code, but an offence against the honour due to every member of the 
working community. In connection with the disturbance of industrial peace the 
following offences have been dealt with: the provoking of labour disputes; 
demonstrations against the employer by misrepresentation; undermining of 
confidence in cooperation among the workers so as to disturb the proper working 
of the firm. In 1934, 64 actions were brought, in 1935 204, of which 164 were 
concluded by the end of the year. 

The penalties which the Social Courts of Honour may impose are fines, 
reprimands and warnings. But they may also order removal of a worker from his 
place of work, or deprive an employer of his title of leader of the firm. In assessing 
the severity of the punishment, not merely the isolated action but the asocial 
attitude of the offender is to be considered. Of the 164 cases dealt with, 8 ended in 
acquittal, in 25 cases fines of under 100 Marks were imposed, in 45 cases fines of 
between 100 and 499 Marks, in four cases fines of between 500 and 999 Marks, 
and in four cases a fine of over 1000 Marks. Further, 21 reprimands and 19 
warnings were issued. There has been one sentence of removal from the place of 
work, and in 9 cases the employer was deprived of his functions as leader of the 
firm. 

If an offence is not only against social honour but against the community 
directly, the Labour Trustee can appeal to the ordinary courts, which may impose 
a fine or imprisonment. 



In intimate union with the organisation of national work formed by the National 
Labour Act we find the planned distribution of labour throughout the whole 
country. 

THE PEASANT AND THE LAND 

In no sphere of law have such fundamental changes been made as in that 
regarding agriculture. Formerly part of the civil code had been devoted to this 
special department of national life. The changes which have taken place here are 
even more comprehensive and far-reaching than those brought about by the 
Labour Organization Act. They aim at the reorganization and preservation of the 
farming class as one of the chief sources of national strength, and to do this a new 
organization, the Reich Agricultural Estate, has been founded. With the same end 
in view, agricultural indebtedness has been generally reduced, and the farms are 
protected against distraint; further, a marketing system has been set up which 
assures agriculture a market for its products at a reasonable price and at the same 
time is a guarantee that the German people will be able to live from the products 
of their own soil. The organizational and economic regulations are very extensive. 
They have in many cases taken over the functions exercised formerly by private 
institutions for the fixing of prices. But this material aspect too is subordinate to 
the national aim of maintaining and developing a prosperous peasantry. This aim 
is of decisive importance for the future of the nation. The farmer linked up with 
the soil cultivated by him is the never-failing source of national strength. 

The Heredity Farms Act is the keystone for the whole law regarding the farming 
class. It is the foundation of all legal measures in this portion of the German 
Statutes. It proceeds from the idea that the farmer's family is linked up with the 
soil through their work. The law takes the farm as a living cell in the folk 
organism. The Heredity Farms Law does not legislate for the soil alone but for all 
that lives from it and grows on it too. It takes fields, farm homesteads and cattle as 
a natural unit in the centre of which stands the farmer himself. This union is 
regarded as a permanent one. Therefore the farm shall remain to the descendants 
or relatives as an inheritance in the hands of free German peasants. For this reason 
the Act makes it impossible to change the normal inheritance in a will. In general 
the eldest son inherits the farm. Female issue inherit only when there is no male 
issue possessing the necessary qualification for taking over the farm. The 
economic position of the farm is secured by a prohibition against mortgages and 
sales. A farm can only be regarded as an hereditary farm when it is capable of 
supporting a family and cannot be larger than 300 acres. In this way the measure 
furnishes a guarantee for the future, that as large a number as possible of medium 
and small farms shall be spread over the whole country. Independent Courts, 
called Heredity Farm Courts, ensure that these measures are carried out. 



German agriculture has been further reorganized by a system of land settlement. 
Planned settlement on the land serves above all to increase the density of 
population in the more thinly populated parts of Germany. It helps to strengthen 
the attachment of the people to the soil tilled by them, and it ensures that this soil 
shall yield sufficient food by reclaiming land from unfertile areas or by dividing 
up indebted estates not intensively cultivated and building new farms and villages 
on them. Each farm must have enough land attached to it to provide a livelihood 
for a-family with several children. Variety in the size of farms is to be aimed at, 
and uniformity is to be strictly avoided. The most stable unit is the farm which can 
be run by the farmer and his family, and this farm is therefore specially favoured. 
But provision is also made for farm labourers since they are needed by the larger 
farms. And in accordance with local conditions artisans and institutions for 
common use (cooperative creameries for example) must also be provided. 

But in order to put agricultural estates on a sound economic basis it was 
necessary to regulate indebtedness. The Act of June 1, 1933, makes it possible to 
reduce debts to a level in accordance with safety and to ensure their repayment 
from the yield without endangering the farmer's livelihood. There are two ways of 
doing this. On the one hand there is a procedure for reducing debts by which the 
creditor voluntarily grants a remission, making it possible to draw up a plan for 
paying off what is owed. On the other hand if a reduction of debts is necessary and 
the creditors are not willing to grant remissions, there is a procedure for 
compulsory adjustment. The debt regulation aims at freeing the owners of farms, 
woods and market gardens, who need relief from their debts to such an extent that, 
after paying for the upkeep of their families, they may pay off their debts 
according to the adjustment plan from the yield of their land. The plan for the 
abolition of debt is supplemented by protection from distraint for agriculture, so as 
to prevent property being confiscated and things beings auctioned which are 
necessary for the running of the farm. 

The organization of the Reich Agricultural Estate is based upon the idea of 
self-government by corporation. The basic Act was promulgated on September 13, 
1933, and a large number of supplementary decrees have ensured its proper 
application. Its aim is to bring together all the citizens of Germany who can be 
considered as belonging to one unit on account of their professional activity as 
farmers, as members of agricultural associations, as wholesale or retail dealers in 
agricultural products, as owners of land which can be used for agriculture, or as 
engaged in exploiting agricultural products. The Reich Agricultural Estate has 
been given the task of training its members to a full sense of their responsibility 
towards the people and to become the solid foundation on which the nation can 
grow and maintain itself. It watches over professional honour which here too is the 
basic element of the community. It also has to care for its members from a social 
and cultural point of view. Since the Decree of December 8, 1933, the Reich Agri- 



cultural Estate is directed by the Reich Farm Leader who has at his disposal an 
administrative staff. In all important questions he is advised by the Reich Farm 
Council. The Reich Agricultural Estate is divided into Regional Associations, 
District Associations and Local Associations, so that in spite of the central 
organization, attention is paid to local conditions. Self-administration is carried out 
through these bodies, every member of which serves in an honorary capacity. 

As a part of this professional organization the Reich Agricultural Estate is 
entrusted with the carrying out of the marketing scheme, the object of which is to 
guarantee the production of vital commodities, and on the other hand to protect the 
farmer from uncertainty as to whether he will be able to sell his produce. The 
marketing scheme provides a permanent market and at the same time ensures that 
the farms are properly and economically run. It regulates according to their nature 
and extent the utilization of agricultural products. These measures are not earned 
out exactly as in a planned economy in which orders and prohibitions tell the 
individual precisely what he is to do and what not to do. The method is rather to 
bring home to each single individual what the goal to be aimed at is, and to 
educate the rising generation to appreciate the tasks which have to be 
accomplished. Thus private initiative is in no way excluded.